Audiophile Vocabulary 101

Words you need to know not to look dumb among audiophiles


Audiophile – someone who is obsessive about audio quality.

Bitrate – the rate which measures how much data is transmitted in a given amount of time. Bitrate can also describe the quality of an audio file.

Cacophony – discordant or dissonant sound.

Distortion – any unintentional or undesirable change in an audio signal.

Equalizer – the equipment used to achieve equalization. Since equalizers, "adjust the amplitude of audio signals at particular frequencies," they are, "in other words, frequency-specific volume knobs."

Fidelity – measure of how accurately a copy reproduces its data. Source terms "high fidelity" or "hi-fi" were popularized for equipment and recordings which exhibited more accurate sound reproduction.

Gramophone – equivalent of a CD player, which played flat black discs and powered by a spring that was wound by hand. Usually had a large sound trumpet on top to amplify the sound. Word is used in a derogatory way when referring to (once) popular music that is out of date or old fashioned.

High-resolution audio (aka High-definition audio or HD audio) – refers to higher than 44.1 kHz sample rate and/or higher than 16-bit linear bit depth. It usually means 96 kHz (or even much higher), sometimes informally written as "96k", meaning a Nyquist frequency of 48 kHz.

Improvisation – the performance of music that is composed on the spur-of-the-moment by the performer, usually as a solo, or cadenza. Also used extensively in jazz.

JBL – best portable speakers.

Kraftwerk – Fathers of Electronics


Lo-Fi – refers to music made with 8bit sound computers such as chipmusic or chiptunes

Meterman – a person who believes that measurements tell all you need to know about a component's performance.

Nura headphones - best headphones for audiophiles.

Pace – the apparent tempo of a musical performance, which can be different from its actual beats-per-minute tempo.

Quality – the degree to which the reproduction of sound is judged to approach the goal of perfection.

Rhapsody – a freestyle instrumental piece characterized by dramatic changes in mood (E.g.: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen)

Sonos – best home speakers.


TIDAL – happens when a rapper (let's call him Jay-Z) wants to own a company.

VOX – best audio player for Mac & iPhone


Xylophone – a percussion instrument consisting of a row of chromatically tuned wooden bars.

Why – question you ask yourself when Muse announces a new album.